Are you a Disney Park critic? I know, it’s hard to be critical of anything Disney (at least I think so), but even I have to admit that I’ve experienced a few things that some parks don’t do as well as others. Of course, there’s also a number of things that each park does very well! Today, I’m breaking down Disney Park Strengths and Weaknesses beginning with one of my personal favorite parks: Epcot.
Epcot has a very interesting history. What few guests know is that Epcot was one of Walt’s main focuses when it came to his Florida Project and that the park we know today wasn’t exactly what he had in mind. Epcot, formerly known as EPCOT Center, stands for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow and was intended to be a real, working community with an innovative design to serve as a model for future cities. When Walt passed away, the vision for Epcot gradually turned into a park that celebrated both the future and the world. That is why Epcot is composed of two different sections: Future World and World Showcase.
So let’s start with Epcot’s strengths, shall we…
Delicious Dining Variety – Epcot is hands-down my favorite park to go for a delicious meal, primarily because of World Showcase. This section of the park offers a vast variety of yummy restaurants with menus from all over the world with each destination offering a magical, cultural experience. It’s pretty much impossible to leave World Showcase hungry and dissatisfied. The dining variety only grows when food booths pop up around the park in the spring for Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival and then in the fall for Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival.
It Handles the Masses – Epcot is a very spacious-feeling park compared to the Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. The walkways in Future World and along World Showcase are much bigger and spread out and can handle thick crowds much better than other Disney World Parks. What’s also great is that the World Showcase pavilions don’t have queues and can be seen and explored even when it’s crowded.
Convenient Location – Of all the Disney World Parks, Epcot has the most centralized location. Several Deluxe Resorts are situated right next door and guests can go back and forth via the World Showcase backdoor: the International Gateway. Also, Hollywood Studios is only a short boat ride away. Guests can board a Friendship Boat at the International Gateway and then sail on over to Hollywood Studios. They can also walk from Epcot, past the Boardwalk Inn, Yacht and Beach Club, and the Swan and Dolphin Resort to reach Hollywood Studios; but for some, the walk may be a little too lengthy. My family and I love to begin the day at Hollywood Studios, walk over to the Beach Club for a meal at Beaches and Cream Soda Shop, hang out at the Boardwalk, and then head over to Epcot for the evening.
Unique Shopping – One of my favorite Epcot activities is shopping. A visit to Mouse Gear in Future World is always a must-do because there is so much merch in one place and the air conditioning here in the summer is fantastic. I also love shopping at the World Showcase. In addition to being able to sample different cuisine, World Showcase also offers the ability to browse and shop items from different pavilion’s countries. It’s the most unique shopping experience ever! Where else can get you Japanese candy, teddy bears from Germany, or perfume from Norway in one shopping venture. My favorite place to shop? The United Kingdom Pavilion. I love the assortment of tea and sweets and all of the merchandise from Downton Abbey and Sherlock and other awesome elements of British pop culture!
Festivals & Events – A number of special events and festivals take place at Epcot throughout the year. In the spring, there’s Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival where guests can enjoy character-themed topiaries, Outdoor Kitchens, musical entertainment, gardening presentations, and merch. Then, in the fall, there’s Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival where you can eat your way around the world with numerous booths themed after different countries featuring dishes inspired by their respective cuisine. The festival also offers demonstrations, a chance to see celebrity chefs, special merch, musical entertainment, and more. Lastly, for the holidays, guests can take in the Candlelight Processional where the Christmas story is told by a celebrity narrator along with a choir and orchestra, or get a sampling of holiday legends and traditions from around the world at each World Showcase pavilion in Holidays Around the World. The best part is that all of these events and festivals are included with price of admission into Epcot!
Indoor Attractions – Rain in the forecast? Epcot has you covered. Literally! The Land at Epcot’s Future World offers several Disney World must-sees under one roof, such as Living with the Land boat ride, Soarin’, Sunshine Seasons, and The Garden Grill. The Seas with Nemo and Friends transports guests under the sea by way of a Finding Nemo themed dark ride. After the dark ride, guests are free to discover and explore a 5.7 million-gallon aquarium! I can easily spend an hour or two here, just watching the dolphins or looking for sea turtles or checking out the ocean life that inspired the characters in Finding Nemo. The Seas with Nemo and Friends also has the Coral Reef Restaurant, where guests dine by an aquarium!
Monorail Access – I love the Monorail. It’s my top transportation choice at Walt Disney World, not just because it’s an icon but also because it’s so quick and more fun than a bus! Epcot is the only other park besides the Magic Kingdom that’s Monorail accessible, which only makes it better in my book. I also love how the Monorail actually goes into the park and circles around Spaceship Earth. It’s a prime opportunity to snap some postcard-worthy photos.
Less Attractions – Epcot is, unfortunately, a little light on big ticket attractions. Test Track, Spaceship Earth, and Soarin’ are the only attractions on my must-do list these days. World Showcase makes up for the lack of attractions, but it does cause those that are popular to have lengthy wait times. If you want to ride Test Track or Soarin’, you will want to arrive in the park early or be sure to grab a FastPass+ for your favorite.
There’s Future World – Sadly, Future World isn’t really that futuristic. It’s been a source of criticism from park goers, including myself, for many years now due to Innoventions, out-of-use pavilions, and just a lot of concrete. It’s also a far cry than what Walt imagined when he was planning Epcot. It seems that Future World’s only draw is the few attractions it boasts, along with Club Cool and Mouse Gear. I also have to drop in Fountain View for a Starbucks to start the day off right; but still, Future World is in desperate need of a Disney facelift and some re-imagining.
Lots of Walking – Epcot is a large park and I’ve already mentioned that it’s very spacious. How spacious? Well, walking around World Showcase alone is 1.2 miles! While I love the fact that there is so much of the park, my feet don’t always feel the same at the end of the day and I do sometimes feel, especially in the space between World Showcase and Future World, that I spend more time walking from place to place than anything else.
Not a Hit with Kids – While this weakness may not be true of every family, it is worth acknowledging that Epcot’s attractions are more educational and aimed towards older kids and adults than what you may find at the magic Kingdom. Therefore, some have said that Epcot isn’t a park for kids. Personally, I wouldn’t go that far. Spaceship, Soarin’, The Seas with Nemo and Friends, and some elements of World Showcase is absolutely kid-friendly; although, as I’ve said, a lot of walking is required at this park and little ones will probably favor the Magic Kingdom if forced to pick between the two.
The good news is that I believe Epcot has more strengths than weaknesses, and despite it’s faults it’s still one of my favorite places to be in all of Walt Disney World. But what I want to know is your opinion of my list of Epcot strengths and weaknesses? Do you agree or disagree? Do you have a strength or weakness to add to the list?